New research confirms the government’s net migration target is unsustainable

Arbitrary targets to reduce migration are unlikely to work, argues Sarah Mulley of the Institute for Public Policy Research.


This week saw the publication of two important pieces of analysis of the UK’s migration system, both of which are significant for the government’s much-vaunted net migration target.

The first report, published by the home office, traces the progress of migrants through the immigration system in order to measure how many people in different immigration categories remain in the UK after 5 years, or settle permanently.

For all the talk of an immigration system in crisis, the results of the study show outcomes broadly consistent with policy.

A high proportion of those entering on routes designed to allow permanent settlement remain legally in the UK after 5 years or achieve permanent settlement in this time:

61% of those who entered the UK on family visas in 2006 had achieved permanent settlement 5 years later, with an additional 5% having on-going leave to remain.

29% of those who entered the UK on skilled worker visas in 2006 had achieved permanent settlement 5 years later, with an additional 11% having on-going leave to remain.

In contrast, only a small proportion of those entering on routes not designed to lead to settlement remain legally in the UK after 5 years or achieve permanent settlement in this time:

Only 2% of those who entered the UK on temporary work visas in 2006 had achieved permanent settlement 5 years later, with an additional 7% having on-going leave to remain.

Only 1% of those who entered the UK on student visas in 2006 had achieved permanent settlement 5 years later, with an additional 17% having on-going leave to remain.

While the study cannot tell us anything about those who stay in the UK after their visas expire, it does suggest that, broadly speaking, the system is delivering what it is designed to do. (This is not to deny the serious problems of administration which continue to plague UKBA).

More importantly though, this study is a reminder of how difficult the government is going to find it to reduce net migration (the difference between immigration and emigration) in a sustainable way.

Because a large proportion of migration to the UK is temporary, very large cuts to immigration are needed to achieve even modest reductions in net migration.

For example, if only 18% of student migrants are still in the UK after 5 years, the government needs to issue 5556 fewer student visas in order to reduce net migration by 1000.

If only 40% of skilled workers are still in the UK after 5 years, then the government needs to issue 2500 fewer skilled worker visas in order to reduce net migration by 1000.

Consider that the latest figures show net migration of 183,000 as compared to a target of less than 100,000 and it becomes apparent that drastic cuts to non-EU migration would be needed for the government’s target to be sustained.

The government can achieve short term reductions in net migration by cutting immigration now, which might be enough for ministers to claim success in a general election campaign, but the effects on net migration will be short-lived, and the economic consequences serious.

The second report, published today by the independent Migration Advisory Council (MAC), points to a more sustainable way to reduce migration in the longer term.

The report recommends that more jobs be removed from the ‘shortage list’ that allows some employers easier access to skilled workers from overseas.

The MAC are clear that it is long-term investment in training and workforce development that has reduced the number of jobs in the UK suffering systemic skill shortages.

Changes to the shortage list are insignificant in terms of overall migration flows, but the message of the MAC report should be taken to heart by government and policymakers.

Migration patterns sometimes show up wider economic challenges (skills shortages, poor quality jobs) – an arbitrary target to reduce net migration will do nothing to tackle them, so policymakers must look elsewhere for long-term answers.

  • Mick

    You spammed and I kept the fire warm. Poor little Newsbot!

    I’m the real life me, whilst you say I think I’m a left winger and that I spit on the workers. (Tell me I’m spitting on the workers! I miss the sound of that!)

  • Newsbot9

    Nope, again, not everyone is poor and small like you. Your compulsive use of equivalence attacks may be related to this… and thanks for admitting you’re lying. Your choice!

  • Newsbot9

    Ah right, so you’re admitting using fire as a weapon as well as spamming. And I’m not responsible for your confused statements.

    And of course you want to force me to do as you demand. So typically totalitarian. Keep up the bad habits, you’ve managed to do a lot of damage to your side in this little thread.

  • Mick

    I would never claim I’m a left winger. I said I was a passing member of the public checking out the goon show of a left wing website.

    But lefties are lefties – liars accusing others of doing said same!

  • Mick

    You’re confused about the fire, my dear poor little Newsbot. Read closer and see it’s your fire I mention.

    Well, you said I spat on the workers earlier. When did you change your policy?

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, you’re trying to blame me for your playing with fire. And you’re now trying to say your policy of setting workers on fire is incompatible with spitting on them? Ha.

  • Newsbot9

    No, goon, you were quite clear. I’m not responsible for your poor grasp of English. And equivalence attacks again. No, not everyone is like you.

    Moreover, you’ve rejected the British public, so…

  • Mick

    I’m a goon according to you. Again, you attack and lie that I do it. Pure pure leftist.

    I am in the British public and always was. A public who rejected Labour again..

  • Mick

    Poor little Newsbot. You’ve played with fire and burned your face off.

    Setting fire to workers? That little brain of yours concocts even better fiction!

  • Alexander Davos

    the trouble is the EU will not allow the UK to restrict access to benefits or the NHS based on nationality which is what needs to happen. We need to leave the EU and start putting this country right. Do you really thing the immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria next year have the skills we want or need= no. Shut the borders now

    Sign this petition to restrict Bulgarian and Romanians from entering the UK:

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’re a goon according to yourself. Keep on denying the record of your right. And keep claiming your rejection of Britain makes you British.

  • Mick

    Poor little Spambot. I said nothing of the kind.

  • Mick

    I said nothing of the kind. Poor little Spambot

  • Mick

    Sad little Spambot. Who said anything like that?

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, keep denying what you said and accusing me of being like you.

  • Newsbot9

    Copy/paste spam from your poor spambot, yes

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, you are. And that’d be “cause and effect”, a foreign concept to you.

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, your spambot’s broken. And apparently is illiterate.

  • Newsbot9

    Didn’t pay your spambot author I see.

  • Newsbot9

    Fiction? Why did you make it up then? And keep threatening me.

  • White Anonymous truther

    @NewsBot9 When you say that I am a genocidal one and your anti hate. What a pile of crap your saying about it. YOU are the one who wants to prevent securing the existence of our people and preventing a Future for White Children! You got to realize the economy collapse is all fake. But it will collapse if Whites become an Minority. Do you think its right to have Whites flooding into non white countries like Japan and change their way of life? Well it only happens to Europe nations only. And with history like Whites invading India and Africa which is actually the Zionists done. The Whites at the time are more struggling at that time then today. With the word “Racist” its invented by one of the mass murdering Communists named Leon Trotsky who uses it to silence his political opponents. But this round will not work anymore. If you want multi-culturism, its simple, get on a plane to Pakistan or China and live there! and you know history as you been lied to at school, so this link will bring you the truth.

    It simple if you don’t want to secure the existence of White people, I would recommend you to get our of Europe. I think your mind is messed up with your ideology. << Do you agree what Kamau Kambon says? Its not Whites, its the Zionists want to kill us!
    Talking about the problem of race is not "Racist" its talking sense!

  • Newsbot9

    Try the reply button. And no, your incoherent rage and racism is not “sense”, and neither is your anti-Semitism. Of course you blame the Jews, your far right always get round that sooner or later.

  • Mick

    Poor little Spambot. I said nothing of the kind!!

  • Mick

    Are you flailing around as Guest or Newsbot now?

    Well poor little…., whoever you are!

  • Newsbot9

    You’re stuck in copy/paste mode now, spammer.